A Burning Desire

At eight months pregnant I was bloated and uncomfortable. It had been a long, tiring day caring for my fifteen month old son. My husband and I prepared for bed. He slipped out of his jeans and t-shirt and got into bed wearing only his shorts as he always did. I slipped into my big, blue flannel mumu of a nightgown and slid under the covers next to him. Little did we know what the morning held for us but the dawn of the next day would change our lives drastically.

The loud banging on the door seemed to be part of a dream. It wasn't until I heard shouts of "The house is on fire," that I was jolted from my sleep. I jumped out of bed the best way an eight month pregnant woman can which amounted more to rolling out of bed. I shook my husband as he just mildly stirred from his slumber.

The house in question was a three story apartment building that my husband and I lived in, along with several other families. There was an adjoining door from my bedroom that led into the living room of the neighboring apartment. The door locked on both sides, of course. It was from the other side of that door that all the commotion could be heard. I ran to the door, unlocked it and flung it open not paying any attention to the fact that my husband was still only clad in his underwear. But under the circumstances I really don't think anyone was paying any attention. He grabbed the nearest thing to put on which was the pair of jeans he had just taken off a few hours before.

My friend Diane and her boyfriend Ed occupied the adjoining apartment. When I opened the door Diane ran into my bedroom. "Hurry, get the baby. The house is burning," she said breathlessly. As I glanced to my right I saw that my kitchen was beginning to burn. In fact, the whole house was burning fast. My husband grabbed our son from his crib and we followed Diane into her apartment. Diane ran into her kitchen and opened the refrigerator. She had just gone grocery shopping the previous day and I suppose the thought of all that food going to waste must have been on her mind. She reached into the refrigerator and took out a dozen of eggs. If memory serves me correctly, she also took a loaf of bread. Clutching her eggs, my friend led the way down the stairs.

"What are you doing with the eggs?" Ed asked. "I just bought these yesterday," Diane replied. "Forget the eggs. They're gonna fry anyway," Ed remarked sarcastically.

"Come on, babe," called my husband, trying to grasp my hand as he looked back over his shoulder. He was a few paces ahead of me and carrying our son. The smoke was beginning to thicken and the burning stench stung my nostrils. "Go! Get the baby out of here. I'm right behind you," I yelled.

"I'm not going without you," he called back.

"I got her Jim. Go. Get the baby out," Ed yelled, motioning for my husband to go ahead.

As Diane exited the building and Jim continued down the steps, I turned back.

"What are you doing? Where are you going?" Ed asked as he tried to grab my arm.

"The bathroom. I have to go to the bathroom."

"You'll have to wait," Ed said.

"Wait. I can't wait. I'm eight months pregnant for God's sake. You can't imagine the pressure on my bladder," I told him as I made my way to the throne of relief.

"Aaaaah. God that feels good. It's better than sex. I thought I was going to bust."

"Hurry up, Darlene. We've got to go. We have to get out of here," Ed tapped his foot impatiently.

"I know. I know. I can't stop."

"Are you done yet?" he asked again.

"No. I'm not done."

"Well, you are now," Ed said and with that he reached in, grabbed me off the toilet and said "Piss on the fire. We've got to go now."

"Wait. Wait," I protested. There I was eight months pregnant, still dribbling, trying to pull up my underwear with one hand as I'm being pulled down the steps by my friend's boyfriend.

As we ran out of the building, Jim and Diane who were across the street on a neighbor's porch hollered "Thank God," and breathed a sigh of relief. The firemen who had a net set up below my living room window realized that we were not trapped but had just taken a slight detour. Although they didn't rescue us they did make up for it by swinging their axes to match the equivalent of the fire damage. It was early April and there was a bit of snow on the ground. I stood there shivering until a neighbor brought me a blanket and a pair of slippers. After all, I was barefoot and wet.

My husband's car was parked in the drive behind the burning building and we had almost forgotten about it until a fireman came up and asked my husband to move it. The car keys were still in Jim's pocket of those same jeans he had taken off the night before. Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out the keys and tossed them to the fireman. "You want it moved. You move it," he said. Seconds later, part of the roof of the burning building collapsed right onto the spot where the car was parked. Thank God, no one was in the car.

I was taken to the hospital as a precaution because I was pregnant. Of course, I was upset. We had just lost everything we owned but we still had a lot to be thankful for. We had our lives, our children both born and unborn and we had our friends. Diane was thankful that she had salvaged something for breakfast and I was thankful for an empty bladder!

Everytime someone uses the expression "Piss on it!" I remember a time when I actually did.

Darlene Zagata is a freelance writer and author of two books, "Aftertaste: A Collection of Poems" and "The Choosing." She is a monthly columnist and editor for the print publication Moon Shadows Magazine. Visit Darlene's website at http://darlenezagata.tripod.com or contact Darlene at darzagata@yahoo.com